L'avenir appartient aux curieux.
What did you think when you saw that sentence? Did you look at it twice and try to understand it, or did you just move on assuming the answer would follow somewhere? If you were curious and tried to figure out the meaning, good for you! The sentence is in French, and it says,
THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE CURIOUS.
Internationally recognized author and leadership expert John Maxwell wrote that statement regarding leadership. When I read it, my immediate reaction was this should be everyone’s slogan.
As babies, we are born with a natural curiosity. We are constantly trying to discover the world around us. Then as we age, somehow our curiosity lessens.
It is essential that we make sure our curiosity stays active. Children at school need it to learn. People in every job need it to expand their career, and during retirement, it’s an even more important ticket to find purpose and joy.
Now that I’ve piqued your curiosity, here are three more reasons why be more curious should be at the top of your New Year’s Resolution list:
1 - Curiosity improves cognitive functioning and helps the mind work more logically and efficiently.
2 - Because curiosity leads to following up on something, it contributes to confidence, self-esteem, and gives us purpose.
3 - Being curious leads to learning, and learning leads to change
and new ideas.
Now that you are convinced and ready to increase your curiosity, some may still need a little help. So here are three ways to encourage your own curiosity:
- Read widely
- Start with something you already enjoy.
- Wander the bookstore and/or the library
- Create a curiosity list.
- Sit down now and create a curiosity list – a list of at least 10 things that come to mind that you would like to explore. Be honest no matter how unusual.
- Keep a small writing pad in your pocket or purse and if you come across something new of interest – write it down - or…, put it in ‘notes’ on your phone!
- Ask questions – of others or yourself.
- Remember that ‘who/what/when/where/why and how’ are great ways to start a conversation with others or to put you onto some of your own steps forward.
- Look at your everyday routine and challenge yourself to change it up a bit. (Hint: use one of the question words above to get you started.)
Samuel Ullman was an American poet who is best known today for his poem "Youth." This piece was a favorite of General Douglas MacArthur who served during World War II. It certainly underscores the importance of curiosity. It’s a reminder that if feeling young and adventurous is on your ‘to-do’ list, here is a small excerpt:
Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart
the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what's next,
and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart
there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of
beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from mankind and from the Infinite,
so long are you young.
As this new year starts, remember that THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE CURIOUS, so promise yourself to be curious today and every day. If you need a little help, let me know.
Happy New Year,
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P.S. Recent research shows that curiosity may be a protective factor against anxiety and depression (Zainal, & Newman, 2023).